what the study is about

In this study, our goal is to understand the male trailing spouse experience, including the types of support they need to:

  • be successful in their role as the stay-at-home husband;
  • ensure their physical, psychological and emotional needs are met; and,
  • find paid employment, if desired.

We are interested in stories about how men cope with their ‘unique’ status as the non-breadwinner spouse, and how others have managed to continue their career or find a new one while living abroad as a male trailing spouse.

why it matters

Family expatriation is changing: while most accompanying partners are women, roughly 10% of the expatriate population at any given time is made up of male trailing spouses. Defying convention, these men support their wives’ careers in the same way that women have done for their husbands since time began: by cooking, cleaning, raising kids, and giving up financial independence for the sake of their family. They receive no monetary compensation and their work is not recognized as ‘legitimate’ by the expatriate communities in which they live.

Surprisingly, research shows that companies do little to support male trailing spouses despite that the number of female breadwinner families is likely to rise as executive women are given more opportunities to advance their careers abroad.

If the trailing spouse role is typically under-valued, poorly paid, tedious and thankless, how much more difficult is it for a male trailing spouse to cope with being ‘different’ in a community of stressed and anxious expatriate women?

It’s also not unusual for male trailing spouses to find themselves marginalized and on the fringe of community support, given that most companies and clubs are focused on supporting female accompanying partners. This is despite that all trailing spouses, regardless of their gender, play a key role in caring for, managing and supporting their spouse and children in their daily lives.